Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Plan Bs

A large part of gardening is dealing with failure and changing plans to fit reality. I've had a couple big doses of that this summer.

This spring, I finished moving The Rocks. This is what it looked like when I started working in April.

The biggest issue with the rocks was figuring out what to do with them. In a fit of genius, I decided that most of what was remaining could simply be used to line the fence that you see in the above photo.

I pulled out the weeds, transplanted the daylilies that were hiding under the weeds, and put down rocks.

Below is the area that is to the left of the above photo. More rocks that had to get moved.

Eventually, I got the whole area clear and had to figure out what to do next, knowing it was just a matter of time before the weeds took over. I decided that in the interest of time and money, I would plant the whole area with wildflower seeds. My favorite garden center had some bags of mixed wildflower seeds, so I grabbed a couple of those and went to work.

I pulled all of the weeds in the area closest to the house, put down a layer of top soil, and spread the seeds out.

I thought I had enough seeds for the whole area, but I apparently didn't spread them thin enough because I only got half the area - what's in the above photo - covered before I ran out of seeds. The side that didn't get seeded looked like this:

 I dutifully watered the seeds and kept them moist for a couple weeks, and guess what? Nothing sprouted except weeds.


In the midst of this project, I had decided that I was going to start adding a few plants to the west side of the wall. In the linked post, it's the area with all of the flowers. For the past couple years, I've simply let what's already there grow, planning to do a major makeover in the future. With the wall construction done, it seemed like I could get started on that, so I placed an order with Prairie Nursery for 32 native perennials. I had a wonderful plan for where I was going to put them, and it was going to be beautiful. As beautiful as all of the wildflowers.

The little babies came as planned and looked ready to grow.

In the meantime, however, we received a letter from the city stating that they were moving ahead with the street improvement project. The street is adjacent to the fence in the above photos. The letter didn't say for sure that the street would be widened, but any construction on the street could mean removing the fence, and my 32 plants were going to be planted right inside the fence.

What's a gardener to do? Plan B times two.

Five of the perennials were planted in other areas of the yard, and the remaining 27 were planted where the wildflower seeds had been. I'm happy to say that they are growing well, much better than the seeds.

As far as the street project goes, we should be getting more information soon. Unfortunately, some of the survey work they are doing in preparation seems to show that the fence in question actually sits on the city's property. Probably more plan Bs in the future.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Once and future harvests

We went from brutal temperatures to rain, and I've been known to hide inside from both of those things. Luckily, we've had enough breaks in the rain that I finally took notice of what was going on in the garden, which was peas and beets!

Gratuitous picture of the garden helper, guarding the harvest:

I should've picked the peas sooner, as some of them were too big and ended up in the compost pile. The rest were very good with dinner, however. Glory the garden helper wanted nothing to do with the raw peas but loved them once they were cooked.

In future harvest news, almost everything seems to be enjoying the rain.


sweet potatoes

I was about ready to pull out the broccoli and then I noticed that a couple of the plants have teeny, tiny heads. I'm not expecting those to amount to anything, but I'm willing to see what happens.

Last but not least, I pruned my peach tree the other day. I'm following some instructions I found in Mother Earth News and attempting to prune it in a way that will keep it small, but I'm not confident I'm doing it correctly.

At any rate, while I was trimming, I found two little, green, fuzzy peaches.

I wasn't expecting any fruit on it this year, so if these ripen, they'll be a special treat. I have high hopes for peach crisp and peach ice cream and lots of fresh peaches right off the tree, but I'd be happy with just a little taste this year.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The good and the bad

I won't call any of it ugly.

I'm going to start with the bad, because that's what I keep thinking about.

It doesn't look like I'm going to be eating any peas fresh from the garden this year. We basically went from winter to summer and did not have the spring weather peas need. The plants are small, scraggly and getting chewed on by something.

There might not be any beets, either.

This one is part my fault, part weather. I forgot exactly where I put the seeds and didn't water the whole area. The seeds were five years old, too. So, bad germination, and then straight to summer heat. There's still a chance I'll get a few.

The eggplant had a rough start. I planted two plants, and the next day one of them was pulled completely out of the ground. The other one was leaning. This is it a couple days after my rescue attempt:

It's looking better, now, so I think it may survive.

I don't have any pictures, but the broccoli is anybody's guess at this point. The plants have grown well, but I don't see any heads starting to form.

The last thing I'm going to complain about are zinnias.

I've planted them for several years, and never had any get eaten. This year, I put five plants close to the raised beds, and they're being demolished.

One of them disappeared entirely. I might have to leave the garden helper outside some night and see what happens.

Now for the good.

The heat loving plants are doing well.

I don't have a great place for the cantaloupe, so it's in the one un-fenced raised bed. Last year, after the plant had grown a bit and I thought it was safe, the rabbits ate every leaf off, so this year, I'm going to have to figure out how to keep it fenced longer. That's not so easy with a sprawling plant like a melon, but I'm going to figure it out.

The tomatoes and peppers are also doing well, but I forgot to take pictures of them.

The other thing I'm very happy about are the native plants that I planted last year and then neglected. I did lose some of them, but others are doing well.

I really should remove the grass between these plants on the slope.

smooth penstemon and poppy mallow
I think I planted six Joe Pye, and five came back.

Joe Pye
The lilies I transplanted from my mom's yard are growing and spreading.

Not all of the nasturtium seeds I planted have sprouted, but quite a few of them are growing in this bare corner.

Most of the perennials I put in this new area last year came back, and some have already spread quite a bit.

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that there are more good things than bad. Maybe I should start focusing on them instead.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I've been busy

I know it's nothing compared to some gardeners, but I have been busy the past few weeks. Between working, trying to walk the new (to us) dog every day, and garden work, I haven't gotten in the habit of blogging again, but I'll get there.

I made good use of my new seed starting stand and started more seeds this year than I ever have. I also had very good help.

Delilah (the cat) had to inspect my soil.

Very thoroughly. Clearly, Glory (the dog) didn't care.

Things I started indoors: broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zinnias, marigolds, snapdragons, tassel flower, amaranth, St John's wort, cantalope and basil.

As of today, only the basil and cantalope are still inside.

onions, broccoli, radishes, and 1 volunteer lettuce
eggplants, tomatoes and volunteer sunflowers

onions, peppers, broccoli and beets

peas, peppers, cucumbers and nasturtiums
tomatoes, zucchini, onions and nasturtiums
I had a wonderful garden surprise this spring. Last year my rhubarb plant disappeared. It was so gone, that I wasn't even worried about machinery driving over it when the wall was being built. This spring, however, it came back!

It's so big that, if I had been expecting it, I probably could've cut some and made rhubarb pudding. Oh well, that will have to wait until next year.

I've been working on some other garden projects, and taking pictures along the way, so I hope to be posting those pictures soon. Right now, however, I've got to go walk the dog.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


As I have every year since 2013, I created an online plan for the vegetable garden this year.

In light of some of my failures last year, I simplified a bit this year. First, no lettuce or cabbage because we end up not eating either of them. I'm also ignoring the garden planner's schedule for carrots. Every year I plant them as early as I can, because that's what the planner and seed packet say, and then I have carrots in summer, when I really want them in the fall. This year, I'll be planting them later, about the middle of June. We'll see how that goes.

I'm planting more broccoli in place of the cabbage because broccoli is something we can always eat. I generally freeze it and like to use it for broccoli cheese soup in the winter.

I'm trying two new things this year: Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. A lady I work with has grown Brussels sprouts for a couple years. She says you have to plant them later so you can harvest them after we get a frost. I'm taking her advice and will be starting them inside in June to plant out in August.

I wanted to try asparagus again this year, but can't quite bring myself to dedicate the space to it. I know it will do better in the raised beds, but it takes up a lot of space. I have recently thought of an area in the other gardens where it might survive. I need to think on that one a bit, although I know time is ticking for getting it planted.

My lack of organization last year caused me some stress and failures, so I created task lists for myself this year. This is my planting schedule:

The story this year for everyone, as far as I can tell, is that spring is LATE. Even though the dates for planting out the broccoli, onions and peas have passed, it'll still be at least a few days before I get that done. We've been in the 60's-70's for the past three days, during the workweek, but this weekend we have winter storm warnings. While the plants could probably survive the cold temperatures, I haven't had time before now to do any planting, and I'm not going out there when it's raining/sleeting/blowing.

The above schedule also shows that I have missed some seed starting dates. That has nothing to do with weather and everything to do with the fact that I took a road trip last week. I don't like making D babysit too many seedlings, so I held off planting several things. D kept the broccoli, peppers, snapdragons and St. John's wort alive while I was gone, and I have plenty of time this weekend, in light of the crappy weather, to get the other seeds started.

I also have a master task list going. It's the one I think is most important. Last year, I was so overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I want and/or need to do throughout the entire yard and garden that I hardly knew where to start. I created this task list so I could at least experience the joy of crossing things have and knowing I was making progress.

As the season progresses, more things will definitely be added, but it has already helped me get a few things done I might otherwise have forgotten. Quite a few of those tasks are weather dependent, so it could be awhile before I get to cross anything else off.

With my plans in place, I'm so ready to get outside, but I will have to satisfy myself for the time being, as so many other gardeners are, with indoor planting.